County council rejects 770-strong petition calling for Harrogate's Low Traffic Neighbourhood to be removed
North Yorkshire County Council has rejected a 770-signature strong petition calling for Harrogate's first Low Traffic Neighbourhood to be removed.
The petition was debated today (16 September) by the council's Harrogate and Knaresborough area constituency committee which heard complaints that the trial restrictions on Beech Grove have only made traffic worse on surrounding streets.
Anna McIntee, a member of Harrogate Residents’ Association which launched the petition, also claimed the council had failed to properly consult with residents who she said were "shocked" when the planters stopping through traffic first appeared in February.
"Residents were not consulted with prior to this, however, we do know cycle groups were," she said.
"The priority should have been the residents on Beech Grove, Lancaster Road and the surrounding roads. This whole process has been undemocratic and scattered with a catalogue of errors."
The road changes were the first of their kind to be introduced in the Harrogate district and have been defended by transport officials and campaigners.
They say the Low Traffic Neighbourhood has so far been successful in its aim to create quieter streets where residents feel safer when walking and cycling - and that achieving this could not be done without causing some disruption to motorists.
Speaking at today's meeting, councillor Don Mackenzie, executive member for access at the county council, said: "The Beech Grove Low Traffic Neighbourhood is a very modest step to what this area constituency committee asked officers to do.
"Namely, to introduce a system of better facilities for walking and cycling in Harrogate town centre and to also encourage people out of their cars and onto their feet, bikes and public transport."
Councillor Mackenzie added: "We are not blocking Beech Grove. Parking is still open and there is still full access to all properties.
"What the measures are stopping though is rat-running by cars through a small road which is entirely unsuitable for the sort of traffic volumes we have seen in the past."
Kevin Douglas, chairman of Harrogate District Cycle Action, also said in a statement that the measures will be a key link to other transport projects in the town, including the £11m Station Gateway project, the Otley Road cycle path and other plans for Victoria Avenue.
He added: "The new arrangements recognise that Beech Grove is a residential street and should not be seen as a through route for traffic.
"The streets are quieter and calmer with less traffic movements leading to a better atmosphere.
"In addition, the modal filters have transformed the experience of cycling on Beech Grove and removed nearly all of the traffic danger."
The Low Traffic Neighbourhood was initially introduced on a six-month trial basis, but this was extended by a further 12 months.
It means a decision on whether to make the road changes permanent or scrap them altogether will be made by August 2022.
Meanwhile, the council also recently announced plans to introduce a one-way traffic filter on the nearby Victoria Road in another trial to improve road safety and encourage cycling and walking.
These restrictions will be trialled from this month and involve vehicles being prevented from leaving on to Otley Road by a barrier blocking traffic.
To have your say on these measures email [email protected]
By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter